Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September "Easy Listening" NASWA column

So what are YOU listening to these days? Introducing the new “request-a-month” feature

I’d like to kick off this month’s column with a request for feedback from NASWA members – in an effort to increase the variety and suggestions in the column. Starting this month, I’d appreciate getting your listening suggestions back regarding a specific theme or topic.

So…for the October Journal…please send in your suggestions regarding music programming. Send ‘em via post card, letter, or e-mail; try to get them to me no later than September 20th so I can compile them for the column. The music programs don’t have to be in English – they just have to be interesting and worth a listen.

Remember – NASWA is an organization you belong to, not a magazine you subscribe to. The Journal brings value to NASWA members because you contribute to it!

Hop on board…The Australian Express

I mentioned this program in last October’s column as a way to experience the “real Australia”. One thing I sorted out while listening to an edition of the program last month is that the interviews and features are generally taken from other ABC programs that targeted a domestic audience. A recent profile of an American expat in Alice Springs aired originally as a segment of the Bush Telegraph program, a rural and regional magazine program airing daily on ABC Radio National.

This takes nothing away from The Australian Express – it remains an interesting way to hear a variety of programming from various ABC sources, all with a common theme of Australian culture. In addition, The Australian Express airs on shortwave, whereas Bush Telegraph is not part of the current Radio Australia schedule (though a half-hour edition airs weekly (Saturdays 1930 UT) on the World Radio Network feed to North America, which also airs on Sirius satellite radio. What this means is that, if you only catch part of Australian Express, you can then search the ABC website to see if the subject was covered elsewhere on the ABC…in case an archive of that program remains available. Australian Express airs on shortwave Tuesdays 1330-1400 (probably the easiest way to hear the program in North America), plus Tuesdays 1705-1730, Fridays 1830-1900, as well as Saturdays 0030-0100 and 0505-0530.

RCI now offers both hours of The Link online

When RCI launched its new daily program The Link, one odd aspect of its availability was that only one hour was available for on-demand online listening; for the second hour, you actually had to listen on shortwave, as the second hour was limited to shortwave broadcasts targeting North America – the 1505-1705, 1705-1905 (might be French…two different RCI schedules show two different languages), and 2305-0105 broadcasts. A recent check revealed that both hours of The Link are now available for on-demand listening, as two separate files. The URL is http://www.rcinet.ca/; click on then . The podcast remains just a single hour of the program.

Another thing – RCI used to offer a live webcast of its satellite-fed services, one of which (RCI-1) used to feature a mix of RCI-produced English-language programming plus that of CBC Radio One, aired at different times than typically aired on Radio One. That webcast was eliminated soon after RCI revamped its programming. While it hasn’t been restored, now one can safely say that it doesn’t matter. The RCI-1 services remain a blend of CBC Radio One and RCI’s programming, but the Radio One programming is simply a relay of CBC’s Toronto Radio One outlet, which is already webcast live 24/7.

I must admit that I don’t listen to RCI’s programming often anymore, as it comes across as too lightweight for my interests; it’s much more a cultural magazine nowadays, versus a Canadian perspective on world affairs. However, I don’t necessarily fault RCI’s programming, given its stated target audience as those considering emigrating to Canada, or new immigrants in Canada. I am much more likely to listen to CBC’s domestic Radio One service via live or on-demand webcast, as I am thus able to listen to “serious” Canadian programming.

Speaking of podcasts, a few new entries from the BBC

A recent e-mail exchange in the swprograms e-list (yes, we still have that going – check out http://montreal.kotalampi.com/mailman/listinfo/swprograms or the link in the left column at http://intlradio.blogspot.com/) mentioned that people were generally listening to the BBC World Service less nowadays than during its wide shortwave availability prior to July 2001. Some folks mentioned that they were listening to the domestic Radio 4 service (via webcast) more than the World Service.

I mention this because the BBC has added a new daily web-only news program to its still-meager podcast collection; this new program is called Newspod, and provides a series of news reports and analyses from various BBC radio services, including Radio 1, Radio 4, Radio Five Live, the BBC Asian Network, as well as the World Service. I’ve sampled a couple editions, and I think this is now my preferred BBC news program, because each story included in the podcast is long enough to be thoughtfully developed, which isn’t always the case in the individual news programs, which – like cable TV news – often emphasizes shallow, “instant analysis.” It appears the podcast is produced only on weekdays; each edition I have listened to runs 36 to 37 minutes long. Check Newspod out at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/podcasts/newspod/.

There are three additional World Service programs now on the podcast list, including Business Daily, World Have Your Say, and Instant Guide. They’re all listed at a single page here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/podcasts/directory/station/worldservice/. I wish all World Service feature and current affairs programming were offered as podcasts, as is now the case for Ireland’s RTE, New Zealand’s National Radio and RNZI, and Australia’s Radio National, though there is no apparent plan to make this happen. I’ll keep an eye on the BBC podcast page and report on any interesting developments.

Meanwhile, the roster of podcasts from Radio 4 – roughly the domestic equivalent to the World Service, though more diverse and with fewer repeats – now includes Thinking Allowed, a weekly program examining the social gaps which most concern researchers in today’s Britain, plus Crossing Continents – one of my personal favorites – which focuses on the human dimension of major international stories.

Broadcaster cross-pollination continues

It is getting tougher to discriminate between international public service broadcasting and domestic public broadcasting, because broadcasts and broadcasters originating in one place will often have their programs repeated in another place. For example, the weekly independently-produced US based documentary, Soundprint, occasionally features documentaries originally produced by, and aired on, Radio Netherlands. Conversely, a documentary on New Orleans produced by American Public Media appeared in edited form on the BBC’s Crossing Continents series, and might also show up as a weekly installment of Assignment on the World Service.

From the broadcasters’ perspective, this is a win-win proposition: Additional outlets are found for a broadcaster’s programs, and conversely that broadcaster can air a program produced elsewhere and not have to pay the full cost to produce a new program for that time period. Listeners, however, get shortchanged, as they might find themselves listening to something they’ve heard before.

Radio Japan: Catch ‘em before they disappear…

Last I heard, Radio Japan is planning to follow through on its plan to eliminate English language shortwave transmissions targeting North America. From what I know, there are no plans to end English language services in their entirety, but we’ll lose the ability to easily hear Radio Japan here in North America via shortwave. I haven’t seen if all English language programming would be available via live or on-demand webcast, so, it might be worth catching them occasionally via shortwave during September.

BBC World Service September Highlights

Mondays, beginning August 27th: The Clinton Years is a four-part series in the Monday Documentary slot telling the story of the turbulent presidency of Bill Clinton and analyzing its impact on the USA and the world today. The BBC's former Washington correspondent, Gavin Esler, assesses the Clinton presidency and its legacy – while his approval rating would have likely meant a third term of office had the law allowed, a sizeable number of people hated him. The third and fourth parts of the series (airing September 10th and 17th) look particularly interesting – they assess Clinton’s record in foreign policy, looking retrospectively through the context of September 11, 2001, and the Clinton legacy, including Monica what’s-her-name. Likely useful shortwave airtimes (i.e. Africa-targeted) include Mondays 1406 and 2106, along with the subsequent Sunday, 1306. Expect the series to be available in the online Documentary Archive.

Wednesdays, beginning September 12th: Top of the Class is a two-part documentary series exploring the latest teaching theories in this era that has seen changes in information technology, work and society. Owen Bennett-Jones, a familiar voice from Newshour, presents this two-part series exploring different world standards and practices in teaching, as well as the technical revolution underway. Best shortwave times are probably the African airtimes of Wednesday, 1406, and 2106 UTC. A variety of live webcasts are also available, including Wednesdays 0806, 1106, 1906, and 2306, plus Sundays 0906; you can also expect the series to be available online on-demand for future listening, as are most World Service documentaries produced since 2004.

Fridays, beginning September 14th: Close Up, the World Service Arts documentary, marks the centennial of the birth of poet W. H. Auden with a two-part series Stop All the Clocks. Ghanaian writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes explores the work, life and politics of one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated literary figures. His work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievements, its engagement with moral and political issues, and its variety of tone, form, and content, according to his Wikipedia entry. Best shortwave airtimes are likely to be the African air times of Fridays 2132 and Sundays 2232.

Fridays, beginning September 28th: The next Close Up series is Music from the Middle of Nowhere, where Grammy award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter k. d. lang pays tribute to her favorite Canadian songwriters, including Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Jane Siberry, Ron Sexsmith and Neil Young, in a three-part series. lang [sic] also explores the current prairie music scene, featuring artists Alanis Morissette, the Cowboy Junkies and Jan Arden.

Tuesday, September 25th: The monthly World Book Club installment for September features an interview and Q&A session with Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin. He will answer questions from an invited audience as well as BBC World Service listeners at the British Library in London. Tales of the City chronicles the adventures of the tenants of 28 Barabry Lane, San Francisco. Eccentric landlady Anna Madrigal dotes on her hedonistic tenants, who get themselves into endless tangles in their often comic pursuit of love, sex and the meaning of life. Tales originated as a series of columns in the San Francisco Chronicle back in the 1970s. World Book Club airs in the time slot set aside for The Word, with auspicious shortwave air times of Tuesdays 2132 plus Sundays 2206.

Thursdays: One Planet, the World Service weekly program on environmental matters, is seeing increased interest due to the generally elevated concern over phenomena such as Global Warming. One of the more provocative programs coming up in September is Climate Porn, named after the term used when environmentalists, politicians and the media wallow in the awfulness of the effects of climate change. Studies suggest that dwelling on the consequences and difficulties of the Earth’s changing climate makes people bored and disconnect from the issue. This suggests that, perhaps, less of a “doomsday scenario” might be the preferred solution. Best shortwave airings likely include Thursdays 1432 and 2232, targeting Africa. Climate Porn airs on September 20th.

Ireland’s RTE Radio 1: Highway 101

It’s not shortwave, but Highway 101 looks like an interesting documentary series that features a series of interviews of notable Californians. Interview subjects include 60s activist Tom Hayden, Robert Reich - a member of Clinton's Camelot, Native American Madonna Thunder Hawk, journalist Lowell Bergman and others - such as environmentalists, writers, campaigners and thinkers. The nine-part series actually started in July, and will be repeated starting September 5th at 2100 UTC, though most installments can already be streamed or downloaded; visit the program’s website at http://www.rte.ie/radio1/highway101/.

I’m blogging more often once again…

Check out http://intlradio.blogspot.com/ every once in a while; it’s a blog where I post items that are of interest to international broadcasting; in many instances, items I mention here will first appear in my blog when I make note of them. I’ll also post my Easy Listening column there a few weeks after it appears in the Journal, for those interested in online archives. The blog page also provides a few links to related international broadcasting items, and also provides a handy way to contact me via e-mail.

I also post relevant information to the swprograms e-list that I mentioned above; you’re welcome to check that out as well; it is (hopefully) more of a two-way dialogue than the blog.

A reminder – remember to send your request-a-month suggestions regarding music programming

Many thanks…see you in October!
73 DE Richard

No comments: